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Nhà Thờ Lớn (St. Joseph’s Cathedral), 40 Nha Chung (Nhà Thờ), Hoàn Kiếm, Thành Phố Hà Nội, Hanoi, Vietnam

By on September 7, 2015 in Vietnam

In my wanderings around Hanoi I came across in Joseph’s Cathedral – Nhà Thờ Lớn (St. Joseph’s Cathedral), 40 Nha Chung (Nhà Thờ), Hoàn Kiếm, Thành Phố Hà Nội – which I must admit was a bit of a surprise. I know that Europe colonised and had a heavy influence in Southeast Asia but always still does surprise me when I come across such large and potent signs of European religion.

St Joseph’s was interesting and impressive. The building is very large, but clearly in need of some TLC. The outside seemed particularly stained and weatherbeaten. Nonetheless, it was still impressive, and it was surprising to come across such a building in Hanoi.

The interior building was very well maintained and stunning. And I was actually surprised at how well it was kept considering the condition of the outside of the building.

Although the window behind the altar, and the altar itself, were very ornate the rest of the building was surprisingly plain. I was expecting to see commemorative plaques celebrating the lives of the local good and the great, I was expecting ornate stained-glass windows dedicated to those who had made a contribution to local society. But there was none of that. Had there ever been? Has it been removed at some point? There was no sign or evidence of any damage resulting from the removal of commemorative material, but it did strike me as odd that such a grand and ornate building had no plaques or dedicated stained-glass windows.

Around the back of the cathedral was an area that seemed to show some scenes from the Bible, such as the three wise men following the star (seen on the left of the photograph below), and what I can only assume is the cave in which the body of Jesus was placed after his crucifixion.

I found visiting St Joseph’s to be a little odd. It is a very impressive building, but there is also something a bit sad about it. The inside is impressive and well maintained, and yet the outside seems in need of a little bit of TLC. Also, during my visit, I didn’t see a single person either inside the cathedral or in its grounds. The place felt almost abandoned.

Foursquare: St. Joseph’s Cathedral

 

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Nick's continued wanderings can be followed on Twitter: @nickswanderings.
 

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